|September 25, 2015||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
VUKOTIC - 5
TEETER - 1
ANDERSON - 1
TOSIC - 1
NEWARK, N.J. – It is a match filled with unpredictability.
The Lipscomb volleyball team is opening the Atlantic Sun Conference portion of the season on the road against New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) Friday night at 6. The two teams have never met. The Bisons have never played in Fleisher Athletic Center. This is the conference opener for both teams.
But Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal thinks his team is ready for conference play to begin.
“We are confident,” Rosenthal said. “Where we have the advantage over NJIT is we have been at the top of the conference and we know what it takes. For them it is the first time they have ever seen a conference opponent.
“We have worked really hard for years to be at the top of this conference. That knowledge and information is our friend here. If we are willing to use that, and we are willing to go as hard as we can, good things are going to happen for us.”
One of the keys for the Bisons has been the play in the middle from Jewell Dobson and Molly Spitznagle.
“The middle has always been the cornerstone of our offense,” Rosenthal said. “Teams have keyed in on Jewell. She has to understand that and the others have to do their part to help free her up.
“Molly has done a really nice job. She did an extremely good job of scoring at Belmont (14 kills, .433 hitting percentage). That is what she has to do.”
The preview: The Bisons, 7-6, have won their last two matches and are coming off a 3-2 win over down the street rival Belmont. Five Bisons were in double figures in kills.
Lipscomb is led by middle blocker Jewell Dobson with 155 kills, 3.10 per set. Libero Brittany Thomas is tops on the team in digs with 211, 4.06 per set. Setter Kayla Ostrom has made 609 assists.
After opening the season with a 5-0 record Lipscomb lost six in a row before getting back in the win column.
NJIT, 4-9, enters the match with a pair of road losses. They fell to Marist 3-0 Wednesday night.
Sisters Danica and Nina Vukotic are the stats leaders for NJIT. Nina made 32 kills in a match last week to win A-Sun Player of the Week honors. Danica has 187 kills and 125 digs. Nina has made 129 kills and has 161 digs.
“We have watched videos of NJIT,” Rosenthal said. “We have called around. This is a big question mark for us.
“The Vukotic sisters are very talented,” Rosenthal said. “They are playing Division I opponents and both of them put up 30 kills in a match. That is going to attract your attention.”
In the 3-2 win over Belmont Tuesday night five Lipscomb players finished in double figures in kills.
“Our well-balanced attack is going to cause a lot of problems for them,” Rosenthal said. “For us it is a matter of understanding this is conference season. This is exactly what we have been working for.
“When it comes to the conference schedule there are so many unknowns. We have to worry about what we can control.”
The 100 Club: Four Lipscomb players have 100 or more kills and four have 100 or more digs.
Dobson (155), Brittnay Estes (130), Molly Spitznagle (111) and Carly Nusbaum (105) are the leaders in kills.
Thomas leads with 211 digs followed by Estes (129), Lauren Anderson (124) and Ostrom (104).
Only Estes has more than 100 kills and digs.
A bite of the Big Apple: Only one member of the team, Hannah Hutcheson, has ever visited New York City before. The team and the coaching staff took the train from New Jersey and spent Thursday night in Little Italy and on Times Square.
“We played it by ear,” Rosenthal said. “You have to be a little unpredictable in New York City. You have to go with the flow.”
The Bisons first road trip was to Salt Lake City followed by Omaha and Chicago.
“Five weeks into the season we have gotten a taste of not only travel but we have been to some amazing cities and seen some amazing sites,” Rosenthal said. “We talk about athletics, but this is an educational process.
“The girls taking the subway into the city is something they may never do again in their life. Going into the city is an opportunity to teach and quite honestly is something they are never going to forget.”
Lipscomb assistant coach Billy Ebel is a native of New York City,
Pleased to meet you: NJIT is the eighth team the Bisons have faced for the first time this season. They are 4-3 against first time foes this season.
Lipscomb returns home Sept. 29 when Western Kentucky visits Allen Arena for a 6:30 p.m. non-conference match.